Student Parent Podcast “1 in 5” Returns for Second Season

December 1, 2022

Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s highly rated podcast presents portraits of parents navigating school, work, and life, highlighting solutions that support their success


Contact: Brendan Creamer
Communications Manager
Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Washington, DC, December 1 – Today, Ascend at the Aspen Institute and its podcast production partner, LWC Studios, released the second season of “1 in 5,” its highly rated podcast that explores the multifaceted lives of the one in five college students raising children. Over the course of 12 episodes, season 2 of “1 in 5” continues to feature student parents sharing their lived expertise, while widening the lens to lift up lessons from leaders working to transform their communities with student parents’ success in mind.

Ascend’s Postsecondary Success for Parents initiative and LWC Studios launched “1 in 5” in 2021 to give student parents a platform to share their stories in their own words about what it’s like to care for a child and pursue a postsecondary credential. Season 2 is part of Ascend’s expanded commitment to equip leaders within and across systems with parent-informed solutions  that advance student parent success.

“I didn’t realize the importance of education, years ago. I had no clue that that was going to be the catalyst for what I do in my future,” says former student parent Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin in episode 5, which follows her journey from Rikers Island to working in New York City government to support others in her community. Yolanda is now the Executive Director of Housing Initiatives for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. Her story underscores how supporting student parents’ dreams and ambitions has ripple effects that benefit generations of communities, a key theme of “1 in 5” season 2. “The biggest goal of my life is to be able to do something for somebody that matters, other than myself,” Yolanda shares.

“Listening to the wisdom shared by each of these student parents, it’s clear that  if we redesign higher education with their needs in mind, we will all benefit,” said David Croom, associate director of Postsecondary Success for Parents at Ascend and host of “1 in 5” season 2. “Student parents are resilient and highly motivated to succeed. Each one of these episodes challenges listeners, institution leaders, and policymakers to consider what higher education, our economy, and society as a whole, could look like if we made the success of 4 million parents who are students a priority.”

In Season 2’s “Winter Break,” we meet five former and current student parents seeking to transform their lives and the systems that shape success:

  • “Meet Daria Willis” (Episode 1) – Dr. Daria Willis – a 2021 Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow – brings her own experience as a student parent to her role as president of Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland, where she works to break down barriers and expand opportunities for parents on campus.
  • “Meet Ignacio Angel” (Episode 2) – Being incarcerated spurred Ignacio to reevaluate how to make meaningful changes in his life to support his family. First step was getting his high school diploma. Then, college.
  • “Meet Soren” (Episode 3) – As a single parent, Soren was hardly making ends meet when their university’s student parent center told them about emergency grants, many specifically for queer parents. With this additional support, Soren is launching their academic career with the hope of helping future generations, like their son’s, to live healthier lives.
  • “Catching up with Drayton Jackson” (Episode 4) – Drayton Jackson shared his journey from homelessness to higher education in season one. When we check back in with him, we hear about the work he’s doing to make his community a better place.
  • “Meet Yolanda Johnson-Peterkin” (Episode 5) – A former student parent who mentors formerly incarcerated women by drawing upon her own educational and criminal justice experiences, Yolanda is the Executive Director of Housing Initiatives for the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.

Listen to the first five episodes of season 2 now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Pandora, Amazon Music, and other podcast platforms. Subscribe to be the first to listen to Season 2’s “Spring Break,” coming in March 2023.


Ascend at the Aspen Institute’s ’s mission is to create a society where every family passes a legacy of prosperity and well-being from one generation to the next. In 2010, Executive Director and Aspen Institute Vice President Anne Mosle founded Ascend to spark and spread breakthroughs in the ways we think about and invest in leadership to foster the well-being of children and the adults in their lives, together. Ascend has since propelled a national movement to shift the odds back in favor of families. Through the visionary leadership of more than 120 Ascend Fellows, 130 Parent Leaders, and 480 Ascend Network Partners, two-generation (2Gen) approaches are now being advanced in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Guatemala, and Rwanda. Together, the leaders in this growing movement are transforming systems that serve more than 12 million families.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

LWC Studios is an award-winning digital media studio whose original work reaches rising audiences with programming that has a social-justice vein. Its flagship show, 70 Million, is the first open-source solutions journalism podcast chronicling how locals are tackling jail reform around the country. In 2020, LWC Studios received a Peabody Award nomination, earned silver in the audio documentary category at the New York International Radio Festival, and won “The Director’s Prize,” their first Third Coast award, also known as “The Oscars of Audio.” In 2021, “Driving the Green Book,” which the company produced for Macmillan Podcasts, earned the inaugural Ambies Award for Best History Podcast. Learn more at

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